Is it godly for unmarried couples to live together in the same place (Cohabitation)?


What difference does a wedding make? Why is it okay to live together after a preacher mumbles a few words, and not before? These are sincere questions, why marriage? Who invented it? Aren’t we free? Why go to the bother and spend all that time and some money on a wedding, especially when divorce is so messy and expensive if the two find they don’t want to stay together?

When couples live together without being married, it is called “cohabitation” in polite language, and “shacking up” in vulgar speech. Such young people are usually alienated from their parents or tribal backgrounds. In almost all cases, they have abandoned their church. God seems far away from them, and they usually feel resentful towards Him. The reason is, they cannot forget that it was He who invented marriage and made it a life-long commitment of a man and woman to be true to each other, asking for His blessing on their union. But they hardly dare to ask His blessing on what they are doing, because they assume that He has written them off and maybe even forgotten them.
Loneliness, especially in big cities, is painful to endure. A lonely man meets a lonely woman-why not get together? Soon they start “shacking up”. The almost continual propaganda of radio, TV, newspapers and magazines, has popularized this unmarried co-habitation. It seems as if somebody is masterminding a campaign to create a new culture in which standards of right or wrong have ceased to exist. A rootless modern society becomes like water: it seeks the very lowest place. Selfish gratification becomes the only ideal in life. The churches wonder what to do. They try to lead people to the higher life but they are usually preoccupied with other problems within the Church membership. There are tottering homes and divorces. Young people say, “what’s the moral difference between married people divorced and then re-marrying and us living together without getting married?” They point to so many miserably unhappy marriages and use this to justify their detour around marriage. When the Church preaches “hell-fire and damnation” to those who don’t get married, they just laugh it off. Some argue that a “God of love” won’t be angry with them if only they ‘love’ each other while living together unmarried.

There are two strong reasons against this, and both are good; but one is better than the other. We can mention them both and then discuss them: Living together for either yourself, your partner, or maybe both of you; more important: It works against His plan to bless and uplift the world, and actually helps Satan in his war against God.
Your sorrow and sufferingAn unmarried couple living together are not joined to each other. There is no true union. It is like a house that we built once on sand, down at the coast. A large crack developed. right throughout the house from one end to the other. We plastered up both the concrete floor and the walls. and it looked nice again. But it wasn’t long until the crack reappeared and then got wider and wider. In a very few years, that house fell in ruins, because the plaster was not glued. The co-habitating couple may say they “love” each other, but they have made no mutual commitment recognized by the state, by society, by their families, or by God. They are like wooden timbers that happen to be lying together, but which are not nailed or glued together. Anything can happen to one or the other. The couple never feel secure. Even if there is no love declared or expected, one or the other or the partners will usually feel a growing sense of dependency on the other. But he/she is only leaning on a useless reed. And to cohabit together, cling each other’s body without love, is to waste their precious years and their abilities in just existing, not living. There is a reason why the age-old marriage vow includes the words, “to live together after God’s ordinance in holy matrimony…” not just exist! No one can live without love!

When one or the other gets tired of the private arrangement, the remaining partner can easily get hurt. And if there are children, well, poor kids, they suffer even more. They grow up under a shadowy cloud, never feeling quite like they ‘belong’ in this world. They cannot avoid learning sooner or later the truth that there is such a thing as marriage and that at least some marriages are happy and produce joyous, secure children. The unmarried parents cannot stop these children from becoming envious when they see this. Even if they never dare to say so out loud, in their hearts they will reproach their parents. If it were possible for some dictator to stamp out all marriage so that no one would ever run the risk of actually seeing a love-filled marriage radiating sunshine and happiness, then everybody in the world could be dragged down to the same low level. But as long as there is a Holy Spirit of God working in this dark, sin-cursed world, there will be happy marriages full of the light of heaven. So, detour around marriage, and you will always be a sad-eyes “outsider” looking in as it were on the party, wishing you hadn’t been so stupid, possibly turning to drugs or liquor in order to drown your feelings of emptiness.

There were some foolish people Jesus spoke of that may illustrate this same tragedy. They could have said ‘No’ to temptation, but refused. They missed the joy of life. “Fling the useless servant out into the dark, the place of wailing and grinding of teeth” (Matthew 25:30). How stupid, to choose an end like this! Good as these points are, some couples reason that they don’t care what may happen to themselves, or even their children. “Here’s nothing going nowhere” they say, and they would just as soon commit this kind of domestic suicide. “Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” is the way that such have thought about themselves for thousands of years (1 Corinthians 15:22). The second reason for not living together unmarried is more important than any of our self-centered reasons. Here is it:
The suffering and pain that God feelsThere is a great war being fought between Christ and Satan, light and darkness, good and evil. Jesus prayed for us to the Father, “As thou hast sent Me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world” (John 17:18). Imagine what a disaster it would have been if Christ Himself had failed! Suppose that He Himself had “shacked up” with somebody and brought shame and disgrace on His Father and ruined the plan of salvation? That would have meant the triumph of Satan forever. We may say, “well, He won the battle for us, and now it doesn’t matter what we do, We are not important.” But this is not true. “As My Father has sent me, even so do I send you,” Jesus assures us (John 20:21). Your life is to represent Him; if not, you are helping the enemy and that would make you a child of darkness. It was God who invented marriage in the beginning (Genesis 3:22-24). When the Lord God made Eve and brought her unto the man, that was when marriage began. God made them one. He did the joining together. God didn’t create Eve and turn her loose to fend for herself, leaving Adam to “discover” her, so that they began shacking up in the Garden of Eden, No, God ‘brought her” to Adam and married them. He was present to officiate at their wedding. We had a good beginning!

According to the Bible, both the state and the Church serve as representatives of God ever since, in licensing and solemnizing marriages. “Everyone must obey state authorities, because no authority exists without God’s permission, and the existing authorities have been put there by God. Whoever opposes the existing authority opposes what God has ordered; and anyone who does so will bring judgment upon himself” (Romans 13:1-2). Christ has also established His church, ” and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). When a couple believe that they are for each other, and are married according to the state and/or church ordinance, it is the same as when the Lord God married Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The clergyman (or magistrate) does not actually marry them-God does. The couple do not kneel to seek the clergyman’s blessing; they kneel to ask for God’s. They invite Him into their new home, and He is always kind and gracious to come and bless as they request. God has used the clergyman or the magistrate as His representative.

Every such home becomes a light in this dark world, a demonstration that Christ did not come to die in vain. Such a home brings honor and glory to Him. It is proof that the plan of salvation works and that Satan is a defeated foe. The husband and wife are actually ‘soldiers’ in heaven’s army. They actually help in God’s work. Their home is an Embassy representing the government of God. Of course, when a couple detour around this happy plan and live together without recognizing God’s plan, they are left on their own. Angel guards cannot build a wall of protection around them. The best they can hope for is the best that unaided human wisdom can give. What is that? It’s just the best that this dark, sinful world can offer. That’s not much! When separation, bitterness, or ‘forsakenness’ brings inevitable agony and tears, God feels their pain also. We force Him to ‘serve’ with our sins (Isaiah 43:24). And His heart yearns for all the helpless children that have to suffer.

Who really wants to add to His pain?If any unmarried couple living together read this article, let them seek God’s forgiveness and guidance. God loves them, and He has already placed some servant of His, somebody who “knows the Lord,” near them. Let them seek counsel from such a wise servant of God. There is no one on this earth who cannot find the way to make things right, and walk in the sunshine of God’s favor. Many such couples have found a way to be rightly married, so as to enjoy peace and security. If your purpose is to honor the Lord, you will find a way to do so.
Shew me thy ways, O lord; teach me thy paths….. Remember not the sins of my youth; nor my transgressions…. Good and upright is the Lord: therefore will He teach sinners in the way. The meek will He guide in judgment: and the meek will He teach His way…. What man is he that fears [reverences] the Lord? him shall He teach in the way that He shall choose….. Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for He shall pluck my feet out of the net (psalm 25:4-15).

We have to ensure we do not misconstrue something very important. A true marriage with God’s blessing does not have to be an expensive, proud wedding with fashionable rented clothes, candlesticks, limousines, and all the other vain paraphernalia usually associated with society weddings. It may surprise you, but the fact is that the Bible says not one word about such extravagant weddings except to condemn the pride and extravagance in them. This false idea that such is a “Christian Wedding” is one way that Satan has used to pervert the truth. People need to know that a wedding with God’s blessing can be very, very simple, at almost no expense so far as He is concerned. It is never His will that forbidding social or monetary barriers be erected to discouraged careful young people from entering into holy marriage. Nothing the Lord asks for requires extravagance or going into heavy debt: “No, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Isaiah 55:1). While this text is not talking about marriages as such, there may be a principle there that expresses the Lord’s mind.

Many thoughtful Christian young people are turning away from the traditional kind of proud wedding, choosing instead to have a simple service of exchanging their vows in the church or whatever humble place of worship is available. Some even are now beginning to have the pastor lead them in their vows during Sabbath worship service, when the congregation are already assembled. It is all over within a few minutes. (Of course, it has been well planned in advance with the full consent of the parents, families, and the pastor, with a proper licence as may be required by the state). Let us seek the ways of the Lord, not the vain ways of the world.

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